Mercer has certainly had larger senior classes.
So Senior Night festivities on Thursday won’t be terribly long with only six making their final home appearance when the Bears host Belmont in the opener of the final regular-season series.
But this class is going out in style.
By the time the final out of the series is recorded Friday, the Bears could be the second seed in the A-Sun tournament, if they win two of three against Belmont and second-place North Florida falls twice to regular-season champion Florida Gulf Coast.
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Mercer is a half-game behind North Florida, and because of a scheduling quirk this season, the two teams didn’t play.
If Mercer wins two and North Florida loses two, the Bears will enter the A-Sun tournament at Lipscomb as the second seed.
And that would be some icing for the group of seniors: catcher-shortstop Nick DiMauro, pitcher Lath Guyer, infielder Tyler McCarty, pitcher Scott Patterson, second baseman Michael Langley and pitcher Michael Shaw.
“This is our smallest class on the team,” head coach Craig Gibson said. “It’s not a lot of seniors, but they’re giving us a lot.”
DiMauro, Langley and McCarty are having almost dream senior seasons.
The NCAA had yet to update national stats Monday. Through May 9, Langley was 28th in hits (79), 91st in doubles per game (0.4), 138th in average (.389) and 159th in total bases.
Langley is currently at .393, which is the fifth-best single-season mark in school history.
“He’s had a great year,” Gibson said of the Parkview alum who hit .358 last year. “He should be all-conference. His first year, he got to play a lot because he got thrown in the mix, and he struggled. But shoot, the last three years, he’s been pretty darned good.”
DiMauro is having a career season despite a position change from shortstop to catcher, although he has been getting a few more games a shortstop lately.
That hasn’t distracted him from being eighth in the A-Sun in batting (.419) in conference games to lead the Bears. DiMauro, a career .318 hitter entering the season, is batting .347 overall.
“He’s wearing it out,” Gibson said. “Changing positions, we didn’t know how it would end up, but he’s such a great team guy and teammate. He just wants to win.”
McCarty has been steady all four seasons at Mercer, batting .309, .287 and .335 before this season’s .337.
“Tyler has been so consistent,” Gibson said. “He’s hit for us from the start.”
Guyer is in his sixth season, thanks to injuries early in his career. He has been put in every pitching slot, returning this season to the bullpen where he has thrown middle relief and closed on a deep and versatile staff.
“He’s a much better arm than his numbers show,” Gibson said. “He’s been great for us from the start.”
Patterson has a 2.35 ERA in eight games, and Shaw is 1-0 with an 0.84 ERA in 13 games.
Mercer is 111-92 (.546) in the past four years, and this season is the Bears’ best, even for sixth-year man Guyer.
“This is the closest team we’ve ever had in my six years,” Guyer said. “And the talent pool has gotten so much better. I’ve struggled a little bit, but this has really been a great year.”
Division II field almost set
Georgia College & State doesn’t know the entire field of this weekend’s Division II World Series, but it has a better idea of the competition.
Kutztown won the Atlantic Region and faces East winner Franklin Pierce, while Minnesota State-Mankato took the Central Region and plays Southern Indiana, winner of the Midwest.
The South Central Region in Missouri has been delayed twice by rain, with three teams still alive in hopes of finishing today. And the weather-beaten South in Tampa also has three teams left, including host Tampa, which hasn’t lost in the regional.
Ironically, the two regions still going will open the World Series at 1 p.m. Saturday with the South Central facing the South followed by GCSU and UC-San Diego. The winner plays at 7 p.m. Monday against the South Central-South winner, and the losers play at 3 p.m. Monday.
Mercer center fielder Billy Burns has been named to the COSIDA/ESPN The Magazine’s Academic All-District team.
Burns, a business major from Marietta, was one of five A-Sun players picked from Division I schools in Georgia, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia.
A student-athlete must be a starter or key reserve and have at least a 3.3 GPA.
John Dortch made the team in 208.
Around GCSU/Peach Belt
Martin Dewald added to his resume during the NCAA Division II Southeast Regional by being named the region pitcher of the year on the Daktronics All-Southeast Region team.
GCSU’s senior pitcher was joined on the first team by center fielder Sean Harrell and on the second team by catcher Richard Pirkle.
n The men’s basketball team has added three players: Jordan Grant of Peachtree Ridge, Royal Thomas of LaGrange and Paul Son of Bulloch Academy.
Peachtree Ridge went 21-8 with Jordan averaging 12 points and five rebounds, earning second-team all-region in 7-AAAAA.
Thomas, a 6-footer, helped the Grangers to a 31-1 record, No. 1 state ranking and state runner-up finish while also earning second-team all-state.
Son led Bulloch and head coach Chandler Dennard, a former standout at Brentwood, to the GISA Class AA Final Four and a 23-5 record by averaging 14.3 points, 12.5 rebounds and 2.4 assists.